Power to the people, a citizen’s newsroom

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When we started to think about how to cover 2020’s municipal elections, we came up with a lot of ideas including covering debates live, analyzing candidate proposals, making public alleged corruption cases that are under investigation or even how some of them are using their evangelical platforms to scale up in the race for mayor. 

We did it, but we thought it would be insufficient if we don’t know what our readers need to know in order to make the best decision.

The Voice of Guanacaste has survived four different elections. We know what it’s like to offer relevant information in an environment full of fake news and disinformation and we know how uninvolved some cantons are during the process.

That’s why we started to visit communities in December to hear citizens’ concerns and ask about the issues our readers want candidates to talk about in order to win their votes.

You will see this question (What do you want candidates to talk about in order to win your vote?) in our facebook and instagram accounts and in allied organizations’ social media too. We are using the citizen’s agenda, —a methodology developed by a group of startups and media organizations Hearken, the Membership Puzzle Project and Trusting News— as a base for our project, which inverts the news process. Instead of sitting down in a newsroom and coming up with ideas, we sit down with people at their businesses, in parks and in communities to think with them.

There are three steps:

  1. We collect all the ideas, doubts and questions that have come to us via social media and during activities and we go through them.
  2. Then we hold a vote so citizens are the ones who chose what questions we should write stories about and, finally,
  3. We ask the politicians themselves about the issue at hand and draft our stories.

At The Voice, we believe that the citizens are the ones who should be at the center of this electoral process and that politicians should compete to win their vote.

So these words are a contract. Us journalists are committed to hearing from you and working to answer your questions. We will ask them of mayoral hopefuls, and write stories that are useful for you, our readers. Our readers will help us understand their worries and to make our job more relevant.